Enterprise systems are only as valuable as they are reliable, in the sense that they don’t suffer excessive breakdowns. Otherwise, companies experience costly downtime and added stress for engineers due to the additional burden of managing issues. This critical function of ensuring systems run reliably and optimally, at production scale and with minimum human intervention, is the purview of site reliability engineering (SRE) teams.
The SRE professional’s job is to reduce human toil by developing and implementing reliable and highly scalable systems that optimize software and applications. Their goal is to proactively identify and, where possible, anticipate potential disruptions to minimize risk and ensure optimal system performance. However, to be successful, SRE teams require a level of enterprise-wide visibility that can be difficult to provide without the right tools to capture and analyze data at the appropriate level of detail.
Let’s examine how artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) can support the SRE mission by connecting data enterprise-wide for unprecedented visibility and control of systems and processes, enabling auto resolution of most issues and more efficient triaging for the few remaining cases where SRE teams must collaborate around a fix.
Challenges of Complexity and Scale in Pursuing SRE Excellence
As more enterprises digitize their operations and move to greater automation, their IT operations must leverage all data assets skillfully in order to improve reliability and reduce human toil. The SRE profession arose to satisfy this need, with a focus on monitoring systems, accessorizing automated releases, understanding change impacts and automating some of the most common system processes.
To do their job effectively, SRE teams need a wide variety of data and analytics capabilities at their disposal. This includes the ability to deep dive into descriptive and diagnostic analytics to look backward and at present conditions to discover what happened in the past and why and to baseline current operations. But this is just the beginning. The true value of SRE comes with the scaling of predictive and prescriptive analytics to draw on that historic data and apply detailed analysis to generate predictive insights into what is most likely to happen in the future; these insights are the basis for identifying proactive measures that can serve to address any potential problems and optimize those future outcomes, minimizing adverse impacts on operations
These analytic capabilities must be fed by robust data that comes from across the entire IT estate. Developers assigned to the SRE role face an especially strong mandate to have this holistic visibility as they plan, build, test, release, monitor and secure systems; their job is hampered to the extent that organizational silos or problems of scale get in the way of achieving that visibility. It is here that AIOps can help evolve IT operations to become more proactive and autonomous by scaling the power and reach of predictive and prescriptive analytics.
AIOps Empowers the SRE Mission Enterprise-Wide
AIOps is an essential tool for the SRE community in the battle to reduce operator stress, configure IT systems to be more stable and run efficiently with less human intervention. AIOps employs artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for observability, context, normal behavior analysis and automated health diagnostics. This, in turn, enables anomaly detection in real-time and closed-loop automatic resolution of most issues.
For example, AIOps can uncover patterns showing that, 90% of the time, a particular alert in the organization’s payment system triggers a seemingly unrelated alert within 15 minutes. Moving forward, this gives SRE teams a 15-minute head start on addressing that secondary alert; the discovery forms the basis of an auto-resolution or triaging scenario that uncovers the underlying cause of both alerts and provides a permanent fix.
That’s just one illustration of how AIOps uses advanced analytics to discern subtle patterns in data to predict when and where problems may occur, so proactive fixes can automatically be prescribed to head off those problems. In this way, AIOps is the technology backbone that scales and automates the SRE team’s insight and control across all system assets and dependencies, a critical tool for continuous optimization of performance with minimal human intervention.
Conclusion: The Game-Changing Role for AIOps in SRE
AIOps is a game-changer for the critical function of site reliability engineering. Powered by a potent blend of advanced analytics on robust data coming from systems across the enterprise, AIOps delivers unprecedented visibility and control for SRE teams in their mission to reduce toil and ensure the reliability and resiliency of enterprise systems. The result is less human intervention and enhanced value from IT systems that are made more robust, more stable and more efficient.